The term “white collar crime” was first coined by Edwin Hardin Sutherland in 1939 to describe illegal acts committed by individuals within the scope of their employment. Professor Sutherland also considered white collar crimes to be committed only by persons “of high social status and respectability.” Today, the term is used to refer to a wide range of wrongful acts, most of which are related to the alleged perpetrator’s access to money or property due to their occupation. Certain types of corporate offenses, including violation of environmental laws, are often categorized as white collar crimes.
White collar crimes can be state or federal offenses. For example, violations of federal statutes, such as price fixing or creating monopolies as prohibited by the Sherman Act or the Clayton Act, can result in prosecution for a white collar crime. The bulk of white collar crimes fall under the category of fraud, including:
• Bank fraud
• Credit card fraud
• Computer or Internet fraud
• Wire fraud
• Insurance fraud
• Healthcare fraud
• Bankruptcy fraud
• Securities fraud
To convict you of fraud, a prosecutor must show that you intentionally made a misrepresentation of material fact. In other words, it must be shown that you knew or had reason to know that the statements you made were false. It must also be shown that the misrepresentation was with respect to an essential element of a transaction. Furthermore, fraud requires that the person injured reasonably relied on what you told them. If a reasonable person would not have believed it, there cannot be fraud. Finally, the injured party must show that they actually lost something.
Other types of conduct that fall under white collar crime include embezzlement, forgery, bribery, extortion and money laundering.
If you are under investigation for or have been charged with a white collar crime, the two most important things you should do are:
• Hire an attorney
• Exercise your right to remain silent
At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.